Starting October 25 of 2011, "InfertilityMom," 39-year-old Jennifer Saake (founder of Hannah's Prayer Ministries), experienced 6 strokes, all due to vertebral dissection at a chiropractic office. The largest two strokes were brain stem and cerebellum bleeds. Jenni remained hospitalized until nearly Christmas and was not expected to live (near death experience) nor recover, but if she even survived, she was slated to live out her days in a nursing home or, best case, to maybe come home but wheelchair-bound and needing 24-hour care (please read more and watch short video). Jenni is now walking (with a cane or wheeled walker), has recovered much eye-sight, some hearing, partial use of her hands, cares for most of her own personal/toiletry needs, and is currently writing three books, maintains multiple blogs, and stays active on both Facebook and Pinterest. Near the five-year recovery mark, Jenni has renewed her pre-stroke excitement about the unique Lilla Rose hair Flexi eight jewelry she sells and has finally regained enough hand/arm function to regularly use! (The biggest ongoing losses at the 4 1/2-year point of recovery are left-side nerve pain, inability to drive, loss of homeschool teaching capability, significant sound processing issues (often triggering nausea), and some profound physical ability limitations such as a limp, balance challenges, clumsy use of right hand and only large motor function in left hand.) Here is her resume.

Since Jenni's chiropractor carried no insurance and moved out of the country soon after the accident (thus avoiding any legal or financial consequences), if you would like to help contribute to the Saake (pronounced like the two small words, say and key) family's massive financial needs (medical expenses alone are estimated to cost between $1- and $1.5- Million in Jenni's lifetime), please visit Jennifer Saake's Stroke Survivor GoFundMe Page. (This support information has been added in direct response to several reader requests.) The Saakes sincerely thank you for your prayers and if God prompts and equipts you to send any monetary assistance as well, this is a significant added blessing.

Jenni is clinging to God's grace through the entire experience. Here is her unfolding story, documented in her own words (typing with only her right hand), as she perceives it happening in real time, messy, honest and to the glory of God...

Friday, September 30, 2016

What's AlterG Like?

It's been a rough week, physically. It just has. An couple very short video examples of my days are posted on my chronic pain/illness blog, Given Me a Thorn.


I think a good chunk of it is related to my concussion not quite two weeks ago. My body has decided this stage of healing requires fatigue along with MASSIVE doses of pain. My lower back and left leg have been especially unkind much of the week, demanding hours down in bed each day (I really only managed a couple hours OUT of bed all day Wednesday because the pain was so high and intense),


And I know part of my struggle is that I've been "single parenting" since Friday night with hubby out of the country (he's on the plane home right now!). I have had, not only the stress of that responsibility or being the only adult in the house (stress greatly lessened by the fact that my oldest became a licenced driver early this month - congratulations, Joshua!!!), but significant lack of sleep both in mornings (Rick usually takes "morning shift" of getting the kids out the door to school and lets me sleep, but my alarm's been going of between 5 to 5:45 every morning this week) and evenings (I'm "wired" to be a night person by nature and can usually get to sleep around 9 or 10 if Rick is home, but without him here, have seen somewhere between 11:30 and 2am before getting to sleep, every single night this week). My body needs at least 9 hours of sleep every 24, and, even with naps, I'm not getting nearly enough sleep this week!


You would think that with all those extra wakeful hours I would have been productive this week. The house testifies otherwise. It looks atrocious! I had dreams of having some projects accomplished when Rick gets home. Didn't happen!


I just feel physically "fragile" right now. A rather strong wind gusted as I was coming out of the gym (that I could not manage anywhere near normal speed nor intensity of activity this morning!) and, even with my cane, I just felt unsteady, like the breeze could easily blow me over. In the pool, I had vertigo from the movement of the surface of the waves and just felt like the water around me was more than my brain could process today.


The one real positive that's come out of this week (other than that we all survived and no major injuries for anyone while Rick was gone) is that I have done some training for my Lilla Rose (hair Flexi) business while I've been down in bed. (If you missed the story of why this is so significant to me, check out I Can Do It!) My mom and daughter are going to help me exhibit at a tiny craft fair over the first weekend of November and I started building my Facebook page yesterday and already have my first Facebook Boutique booked - she came to me and requested the show!

----------pre-scheduled post below------------
By the time this post is scheduled to go live, presuming there are no insurance hiccups, I should have has three therapy sessions with the AlterG (and yes, Kendra, you are absolutely allowed to be "happy jealous" - I SO wish you had access to this therapy too!), but as I write, I've only tried it once so far.

I realized I had more butterflies when I got dressed that day!
Here are a series of very short videos and a couple still shots of the day.


You start by putting on a tight pair of "biker shorts" with an attached "skirt" that's edged with a zipper.


Then you step onto the treadmill and up into the cavity of the bubble, that is then raised up around you.

video

You zip in, the bubble inflates with air, then the treadmill weighs and calibrates to your exact weight at that very moment...
video

You start at 100% gravity, then the machine can be adjusted down to as low as 30%, or anywhere in between.
video

If these videos don't work for you or you want to see the amazing progress a few weeks later, I put up a video on YouTube too.

I found that the lower the gravity dropped, the less pain I experienced in that left leg (much like sometimes happens in the pool), but also the less control (unlike in water that creates pressure and provides constant feedback through sensation), I maintained over it! However, because there is a video screen of my feet directly in front of me, as long as I carefully watched my steps, I was able to walk very smoothly, only kicking wildly (this is recorded in a file that was too long/large to upload here) when I was not watching the screen and receiving visual input. Amazing!

The feel better orchid my hubby brought me after my concussion.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Four and a Half Hours


I have a dress with a mesh back yoke. Then brand tag was bright red and showed through the mesh. I removed it as carefully as I could, but still ended up doing this damage:


So my friend, Shelly, took me to get these:


Wonkey hands and all, I decided to upgrade my dress:


The first butterfly took me over 2 1/2 hours to sew over the hole.


I managed the second in just under two hours.


The stitching workmanship is not up to pre-stroke standards, but I did it!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Winner Announcement



Congratulations to Katherine Gamble Rhodes, selected by random.org for winning of my September giveaway


Thank you again to ChefMomB, Bethany Schoeff, for sponsoring this month's prize package! (Bethany is an allergy-friendly chef, mother of three, actor/singer, independent consultant for Jamberry and Perfectly Posh. )


I plan to host one giveaway each month. (At this time, prizes may only be shipped to United States, including APO/FPO/DPO, mailing address.) If this helps with my traffic AND I can consistently get sponsors to donate gifts in the $10-25 (minimum, higher value is absolutely welcome!) range, I hope to make monthly giveaways a long-term feature of this blog. 

Two of these beauties available! (Pencils not included.)
In October, in celebration of my 5-year rebirthday, look for two coloring calendars for 2017 dates - one sponsored by my sweet husband, Rick Saake, and the other donated by my Strokie Pal Kendra!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sneezing


Last Sunday, I just felt off, a little more dizzy than my recent norm, my left hand was somewhat less able and responsive than it has typically become capable of managing. And then, that afternoon I met Fred, likely gave myself a concussion because I frequently felt a bit faint, found my emotions, especially quickly-flashing-up-anger, even more challenging to keep in check, then awoke at 2am throwing up the next morning.

I keep finding butterflies around my house I never got added when I did my Butterfly Frenzie picture round up!
I'll share all my latest here.

But in between the morning realizations of a less-cooperative body and the afternoon hit to the head, I had an amazingly exciting accomplishment!

Butterflies for my hair.

I sneezed and I MANAGED TO KEEP MY LIPS CLOSED!


Big deal???

Apron

Do you realized I have NEVER, NOT EVEN ONCE BEFORE, managed this tremendous feat since my strokes?


Usually, I sneeze and spray everywhere. Not from my nose. I spit! I cannot keep my lips together, no matter how hard I try.


Yes, I cover my nose if I feel a sneeze coming, but I also must cover my mouth, because the nose is actually less of a worry than the lips!


For the first time in nearly five years, I kept my lips together when I sneezed!

My bird doesn't think typing with one hand is challenging enough. She likes to walk across the keys while I'm trying to type!

It felt good. It felt satisfying.

We are being blessed with a new (to us) couch! Here's the first of three pieces, It will have a corner section and another wing that the mirror image of this. Both ends contain recliners. Exciting!
And I didn't even give the guy in the pew in front of me a shower!

Corner cleaned, awaiting the rest of the couch.
P.S. Today marks just one month from my 5-year Re-Birthday (Stroke-A-Versary).

Friday, September 23, 2016

Faithfulness (and further Concussion update)

I woke up throwing up in the night, early Monday morning, about 12 hours after my concussion.
Monday was BAD but I've progressively but improving each day since.
We had NASTY winds whipping yesterday. I think that stirred up my sinuses. Around midnight I woke up with such a headache I wrestled with the idea of waking Rick up and having him take me to ER, but decided it was sinus, because each time I would shift my head, I get about 2-seconds of a break in pain, before all the fluids shipped and the vice grip would squeeze again.
I took meds but by a quarter to 2, I was up throwing up. After about 6 rounds, Zofran kicked in enough for me to lay down again and I finally last saw the clock around 3.
Concussions, especially on top of pre-existing brain injury, are not a cake walk. Just saying.
I think I'm going to be parked in my recliner most of today. Praising God my kids are off school today!


I had already written and scheduled the following post before Sunday's head it. It was true then and even more true today, though I'm currently rather back in the Not even Able camp, not just these emotional blahs.


"Faithfulness"


This is the word on my heart this week. The concept is biblical, that to be entrusted with much, we first must show faithfulness with small things.


I've had so many years of NOT being able to do things, clean house well, care for the needs of my family.


I still don't do exceptionally well.  Everything still takes me much longer than it "should." I am in pain. I miss details. I'm not swift, mentally nor physically.


Still, as far as raw ability, I'm becoming more capable with each passing month.

I can use my Flexi clips again! (No this is not my hair. I'm certainly not this skilled again yet.)

And more lazy. More slothful.


Work hard on physical tasks? I don't want to.


Plain and simple.


Yes, I have some viable excuses, but the bottom line is I've found it rather nice to have various tasks done for me.


For years I just wanted to be able to clean a toilet again.


I am able now, but the novelty has worn off.


I don't like how much I don't like many of the things I've grieved not being able to do.


I'm praying for faithfulness, now that I can do more things, that I will consistently have the heart to do so.



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On My Way


As you read this, I'm in the car, on my way to be evaluated for AlterG therapy.


Thank you for your prayers.


Thank you to any of you who have been able to contribute to our expenses in order to make this possible!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Concussion Update


Doctor confirmed whiplash and concussion today. Diagnosed with Post Concussion Syndrome. Starting AlterG therapy tomorrow and water aerobics have been OKed, since both are generally without risk of another head-injuring fall. Otherwise I'm on light activity restriction for the next 30 days. Because of the strokes, I have significantly "less tissue" in my brain, thus "more room for a bleed to develop," so had a CT this afternoon to rule out any additional concerns. All clear from those tests praising God!


As a fun side note, while I don't quite follow everything this "Mom" did (for instance, I don't sleep in headcovering since I'm already covered under my husband's roof), my low Lilla Rose bun and head covering did cushion some of the impact, especially over my already hard-hit brain stem, thus preventing significantly greater injury on Sunday!
Final call! Just a few hours left to enter the giveaway for the Hope bracelet and the Jamberry manicure! Don't forget to enter.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Concussion

This post wasn't scheduled to go live until Friday, but as I now have full-on concussion symptoms, I'm giving it to you in real time. Like I needed another brain injury, mild or otherwise?


Meet "Fred."
Fred
 I did, early Sunday afternoon.


I was sitting on my walker, using it as a (backwards) wheelchair. My 10-year-old was pushing. Then a wheel of Bubbles (walker) met Fred (random name I gave the pebble, in effort to reassure panicked son that he hadn't killed me).


Wheel hit rock. Wheel froze. Walker flipped backwards. Head hit blacktop with a sickening thud. Both elbows and lower back also impacted hard. 


(Amazingly, there is no damage to my new dress. I'm so thankful. as it is the very first time I have ever worn this dress!) Two of the three nurses who live on our street either witnessed my "graceful" splat or rushed outside to help me up when they heard my scream. That's one way to meet your neighbors!


My "Little Bear" feels horrid. This is so not his fault. I'm the one that suggested this particular game. Fred is the one who caused all the trouble!

Bear saying sorry in Sign Language.
Update One
Update Two
Update Three